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Singing home the Whale by Mandy Hager

August 20, 2014

singing the whaleSinging home the Whale by Mandy Hager. Pub. Random House, 2014.

The essence of this novel is that it is the union of two souls – Will a teenage boy who has been scarred by a beating and humiliated on Youtube, and a baby orca named Min who has lost his mother to whalers and been separated from his pod.

They come together as Will sings his beloved opera music while at sea in a yacht and his music is heard by the grieving baby orca who responds with his own clicks and whistles. The orca comes alongside the yacht, Will reaches out and their touch has a moving effect on both.

Their relationship is to last a lifetime but the immediate consequences are aggravation and acrimony leading to assaults, family breakups and thankfully beautiful music. The two are so harmonious nothing but long term good can come of it. But it don’t come easy.

Will and Min must find themselves. Will must gain confidence and get over the humiliation of social media exposure. He needs friends. Min needs to find his family but he thirsts for human company like a bird seeks the sky and hope is hard to hold on to when one is little and alone.

The action in the present involves a struggle with a violent and domineering salmon farm owner Bruce who wishes to kill the orca. The local marae, department of fisheries and police get involved in the action.

Through Min we also learn of the culture of the whales. How the humans who they call The Hungry Ones slaughtered the whales in a time they call the Days of Blood. Min sings their song jus as Will sings his “I am captain of the Pinafore and a right good captain too”

The music of Gilbert and Sullivan, Madam Butterfly and a host of opera composers compliments the song of the whales.

Mandy Hager cares about the Planet and all its inhabitants, we all should but she realises the human condition is getting in the way but there is hope. This is a novel of hope and promise. One of the most valuable novels I have read for sometime

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